2.2 Scope. These guidelines apply to all inventory and monitoring of plant, fish, and wildlife conducted by Service resource managers. They do not reference plant inventories beyond the scope of basic species lists, general distribution, and abundance; nor do they reference plant surveys in the context of habitat monitoring. They apply to survey schemes developed for a single service unit, as well as to comprehensive schemes for multiple units.
2.3 Policy. Service policy is to
A. Collect baseline information on plants, fish and wildlife.
B. Monitor, as resources permit, critical parameters and trends of selected species and species groups on and around Service units.
C. Base management on biologically and statistically sound data derived from such inventory and monitoring.
A. To balance traditional species-specific and unit-specific inventory and monitoring efforts with collection of such data in a broader, community-based, ecosystem context.
B. To promote basic inventory of flora and fauna on Service units as fundamental to developing a framework for an ecosystem approach to management.
C. To assess new and ongoing survey efforts, focusing limited resources on data collection pertinent to Service policies and programs and on management objectives of Service units .
D. To promote the use of coordinated, standardized, cost effective, and defensible methods for gathering and analyzing population data.
A. Resource Managers. Resource managers will use Exhibit 1, within their respective supervisory structures and in consultation with Regional Biological Review Panels, to establish inventory and monitoring priorities. They will then prepare, maintain, and implement an Inventory and Monitoring Plan (IMP) (Exhibit 2) for their units.
B. Biological Review Panels. Biological Review Panels, in consultation with resource managers, will assess species or species groups to be surveyed against Exhibit 1, recommend types of surveys, provide expertise on design of inventory and monitoring programs, and assure correct interpretation and use of results. Panels will review proposals for statistical and biological soundness and will assist the resource manager in developing an IMP to be approved by the Assistant Regional Directors (ARDs).
C. Assistant Regional Directors. ARDs for the unit's respective program will establish regional Biological Review Panels, the structure of which is left to ARD discretion. It is recommended that the panel include at least one field-level biologists, as well as retain biometrical expertise from within the Service, universities, State agencies or the National Biological Service (NBS) for design and statistical review. To establish consistency across Service units, ARDs rather than local managers or associate managers will approve IMPs pursuant to the philosophy of this chapter.
A. Inventory. Accepted biological methods to determine the presence, relative abundance, and/or distribution of species.
B. Monitoring. Accepted biological methods to determine the status and/or demographics of species over time.
C. Reporting Office. Any field-level unit which administers floral or faunal surveys.
D. Resource Manager. Any field-level manager who manages a Service unit.
E. Service Unit. Any tract owned or managed by FWS.
F. Survey. A general term for any type of inventory or monitoring procedure.
2.7 Inventory and Monitoring Plan. The Inventory and Monitoring Plan (IMP) (Exhibit 2) will guide collection of data on species of management concern to the Service unit. It will consist of: the six parts detailed in Exhibit 2; Species Lists (Exhibit 3); and a series of Survey Procedure Forms (Exhibit 4).
A. General. The IMP contains four types of surveys. Type I consists of basic species lists (SLs). Type II addresses qualitative surveys without statistical analysis. Type III refers to quantitative surveys characterized by careful survey design and a high level of consistency and sampling discipline. They collect data amenable to trend (e.g., means, ranges) or rigorous statistical (e.g., analysis of variance, regression) analysis. Type IV surveys are cooperative endeavors in which the reporting office participates but which are coordinated by others. They typically follow predetermined sampling protocols.
Where appropriate, a single IMP should be cooperatively prepared for an administrative complex or for a group of administratively independent Service units with similar needs (e.g., ecologically similar wildlife refuges). It might also incorporate survey efforts of non-Service partners within the same ecosystem. Alternatively, a Service unit may participate in an IMP written for an ecosystem, provided the ecosystem IMP adheres to the philosophy and format of this chapter.
B. Inventory/Monitoring Emphasis.
(1) Inventory and monitoring emphasis should be on species or groups of species of critical management importance. Generally, surveys chosen for a Service unit should derive from written management objectives developed for that unit. Type III quantitative surveys should be favored over qualitative Type II surveys. Resource managers will develop, in conjunction with Biological Review Panels, an IMP that ranks species to be surveyed, describes inventory and monitoring procedures and analyses, and details what interim and final reports will include. The IMP should guide decision making in times of limited budgets and staff resources.
(2) The IMP should focus on obtaining optimum data on a few well-chosen species or groups of species. Its commitment of resources should be realistic. Simple, standardized, well-documented techniques are preferred. In many cases, trend data will be adequate. Consistent and systematic record keeping is paramount. A few reliable surveys are better than many poor ones. Surveys must be chosen to answer specific questions, and constructed so as to establish a defensible link between data gathered and the questions asked.
(3) As approving officials, ARD's have ultimate discretion over surveys implemented.
C. Sampling Design and Data Standards. As necessary, specialists should be consulted to formulate questions to be answered by surveys, and to choose and design data collection techniques appropriate to the survey type. For Type III surveys, the desired data analyses should be determined and, for complex statistical analyses, the design subject to biometrical review before implementation. Where existing protocols (e.g., those for NBS' Breeding Bird Survey, or The Nature Conservancy's [TNC] Natural Heritage Program) are adaptable to a unit-specific survey, they are preferred.
D. Reporting Requirements. Written reports are an integral part of the survey process, and station scheduling must permit consistent completion of required interim and final reports for all surveys. If not, then final reports should be prepared for lower priority surveys and they should be eliminated from the IMP.
E. Storage and Use. The IMP is best stored in a three-ring binder with separate divisions for each Survey Procedure Form (Exhibit 4) and associated materials. As procedures are revised, the outdated Survey Procedure Forms will be archived with corresponding data.
F. Updates and Maintenance. Type I species lists will be updated at least annually. Type II, III and IV components will be reviewed a minimum of every 3 years. As available staff and funding change, survey procedures that comprise the IMP should be added or removed. The IMP should reflect only what can be accomplished in the current fiscal year.
Effectively, the IMP becomes a compilation of approved and current survey procedures. Inventory and monitoring needs not addressed in the IMP due to limited resources should be incorporated into the Refuge Operating Needs System (RONS) as "unmet needs."
2.8. Inventory and Monitoring Survey Types.
A. Type I: Species Lists. The SLs will be a dynamic compendium of existing basic information on vascular plants, arthropods, mollusks, and vertebrates with confirmed presence on the Service unit. SLs will assist with information requests from outside the Service, complement gap analysis and other databases such as TNC's Natural Heritage Program, and provide baseline data for ecosystem and biodiversity management efforts. They may also be used to update unit public use checklists and leaflets. Unit checklists should not be used to develop these SLs, however, except where data or observations confirm a species as present.
(1) A minimum recording format for SLs is found in Exhibit 3, but reporting offices may add additional fields. The additional fields should only include confirmed data gathered from reliable sources and specific to the unit.
(2) Lists should be developed from records confirming the presence of species on the unit. Reporting offices are encouraged to obtain data for SLs from published sources, other agencies, State heritage programs, and museum and university collections. SLs can also be developed in conjunction with type II, III, or IV surveys.
(3) SLs are open-ended repositories of existing knowledge. Service units are not required to schedule active data gathering solely for SLs, but lists should be expanded as information becomes available. They will be formally updated at least annually.
(4) SLs should be stored and managed using some form of computer database.
B. Type II: Qualitative Surveys. Generally, Type II surveys will correspond to species and programs for which observational data are useful, though not amenable to statistical analysis. Such surveys are characterized by an informal survey design and little sampling discipline, so their primary benefit is background information or general feedback to the resource manager. Type II survey results may lead managers to begin more structured Type III surveys. Exhibits 1 and 2 will aid in determining Type II survey efforts. Type II surveys should not be conducted if they do not provide useful information.
(1) Each Type II survey will be outlined on Survey Procedure Form (Exhibit 4). It is complete upon filing of a written report (Exhibit 5).
(2) Resource managers are encouraged to use standard data gathering techniques, even though Type II surveys will be composed of various less formal approaches. While there are no fixed guidelines, such surveys should be as structured as possible and formally reported.
(3) Because these are informal activities free of statistical rigor, they will not be used to measure quantifiable parameters such as natality, age ratios, or species composition. Some examples of Type II surveys might be observations of marsh bird rookeries or grouse leks, dates and numbers of hawks during migration, songbird arrival dates, or counts of salmon runs or marine mammal haulouts.
(4) Type II survey areas may be loosely defined, such a refuge and the surrounding area; or more clearly delineated, such as a specific farm field, rookery or pond. However defined, areas or sampling sites should be clearly mapped or described in the planning and reporting processes.
(5) Statistical analyses should not be applied to Type II data, as they are not amenable to such analyses.
(6) Because such surveys are loosely structured, survey periods will vary and may even be arbitrary. They should be as defined as possible, however, and documented in respective Survey Procedure Forms (Exhibit 4). Results will be reported at least yearly.
(7) To be as useful as possible, Type II inventory and monitoring data should be stored and managed in some type of computer database.
C. Type III: Quantitative Surveys.
(1) Type III surveys will be completed on species or groups of species of particular management concern for the unit. Exhibits 1 and 2 will aid in determining Type III survey efforts. This information will provide quantified data that can be statistically analyzed for use in determining critical population trends, harvest rates, response to management actions, or other such needs.
(a) Statistical analysis refers to use of a range of statistical techniques, from simple summary statistics for trend analyses to the highest level of complex analytical applications. It requires that surveys are performed in a controlled, consistent, and biologically valid manner. Generally, data are collected to meet some predetermined level of statistical rigor such as defined confidence limits and probability levels.
(b) The defining criteria of Type III surveys are design and sampling discipline. Thus, an "opportunistic" drive-by or walk-through of a heron rookery accompanied by field notes would be Type II; whereas, a Type III would entail a series of planned visits at fixed times and intervals by consistent observers recording data on predetermined parameters throughout a breeding season. A compilation of weekend birding notes by volunteers would be Type II; whereas some fixed survey route run at consistent intervals and time periods by proven observers again collecting data on predetermined parameters would be Type III.
(2) Each Type III survey will be described on a Survey Procedure Form (Exhibit 4).
(3) Type III protocols should be drawn from published literature or other proven, accepted, and statistically defensible techniques.
(4) Objectives of a specific inventory or monitoring effort and the use to be made of these data will determine the parameters to be estimated. Type III surveys are appropriate for estimates of population trend, density, natality, mortality or other demographic parameters. Absolute counts are also Type III surveys. Statistically quantifiable changes in carefully chosen parameters are the best means of documenting and/or evaluating the effects of management practices. A defensible link must exist between parameters measured and the specific questions which drive a survey. For example, increased shorebird numbers may not reflect a response to some moist soil management technique as much as to changing water regimes off-refuge. Better parameters to assess the moist soil management may be changes in vegetative composition or benthic invertebrate numbers.
(5) Survey Procedure Forms (Exhibit 4) for Type III surveys should clearly delineate and standardize corresponding survey areas. Sampling areas generally must be homogeneous and representative of a particular habitat type. For some Type III surveys, sampling techniques, confidence limits and levels of probability chosen may dictate minimum sampling areas. Thus, sampling areas may extend beyond the boundaries of the Service unit. Some surveys may require formal "study areas," and/or "control areas."
(6) Appropriate probability levels, confidence limits, and other statistical criteria will be recommended by the Regional Biological Review Panels according to the use of the data to be collected. The Panel is responsible for assuring that the sampling design proposed will satisfy survey objectives and achieve the desired level of statistical power. This will often entail coordination with field biologists.
(7) Survey time frames will be largely defined by the seasonality of the parameters to be measured and how they relate to the life histories of the species in question. The requirements of particular survey techniques (e.g., need for repetition or randomness) will also influence the timing, duration, and pattern of surveys. Whatever the time frame, it should be documented in the Survey Procedure Form (Exhibit 4), and a reporting interval established accordingly. Type III surveys require periodic reports (Exhibit 5) according to established intervals, or final reports if monitoring is to be terminated.
(8) Type III inventory and monitoring data should always be stored and managed using some type of computer database.
D. Type IV: Special Cooperative Surveys. Type IV surveys follow predetermined protocols established by their respective coordinating offices or agencies. They are included in the IMP to help resource managers and Biological Review Panels balance Type IV commitments against other inventory and monitoring needs. Also, inclusion of Type IV surveys in IMP's helps to avoid duplication of effort, and can promote use of their protocols for selected unit-specific survey activities.
(1) Reporting offices are encouraged to participate in these cooperative surveys, particularly if they promote an ecosystem approach to management. Participation in Type IV surveys will also enhance relationships with the agencies and organizations which coordinate them. In some cases, Type IV surveys may supplant the need for unit-specific work; e.g., the Migratory Bird Management Office's (MBMO) Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey or July Production Survey may be more relevant than refuge-specific waterfowl data. Unless participation is a Work Planned item, however, it should not preclude completion of the more critical unit-specific surveys.
(2) Type IV surveys represent a variety of activities with various degrees of sampling discipline and statistical rigor. The NBS's Breeding Bird Survey is highly structured to permit reliable statistical analysis. In contrast, the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Counts are loosely structured and subjective with little sampling discipline. More examples of Type IV activities include other MBMO surveys for waterfowl or other migratory birds, state Breeding Bird Atlas projects, and other state surveys. All involve cooperation between the Service unit and a second office or agency which originates the activity.
(3) Each Type IV survey proposed should be described in the Inventory and Monitoring Plan (Exhibit 2) to promote review of the station's participation and commitment of resources. For those in which the station finally participates, more specific information should be provided with the Survey Procedure Form (Exhibit 4). For many Type IV surveys, most information on the Survey Procedure Form can be provided by simply attaching the guidance issued by the coordinating office.